Assembly of Contraptions

I recently came across some speculative card design around the concept of assembling contraptions, and what that might mean, if ever the promise of Steamflogger Boss were to be realized. That got me thinking, and I have come up with my own take on it, which I want to showcase here.

So what Steamflogger Boss does for us is set up a handful of expectations. It establishes a meaningful creature class “rigger”, it suggests an action that creatures can taking (assemble), and it refers to a permanent type (contraption). The most obvious starting point is to make a “contraption” be a type of artifact, similar to equipment. As for assembling, it begs to be a defined keyword, and it also needs to be an action that any creature can take, so that the Boss can actually do it. This is to be contrasted with being an action that is a defined ability on the creature that does it. I used the Crew mechanic as a basis; it’s defined on the artifact/contraption and open to being done by any creature.

However, I also liked the thought of having creatures that have an ability to assemble a contraption, by which is meant to fabricate some new gizmo where none existed before. So I ended up with two similar keywords, one which appears on contraptions, and another which appears on creatures with a special ability to assemble contraptions.

The flavorful notion of a contraption, in my mind, is something that does unexpected things, breaking established categories. I wanted my contraptions to have some unpredictability to them, where they don’t work as you hope without a bit more tinkering. Thus, they are modal permanents, with differing abilities based on their Gear setting, which is determined by a 1D6 die roll. This is similar to the Level Up mechanic, though the various modes are not necessarily progressive. It’s hard to come up with sets of six abilities, and also hard to fit them onto a card, so it might make sense to use a 1D4 instead, or else consolidate a 1D6 (like Gears 1-3 = ability A, Gears 4-5 = ability B, etc.). But this template seems to show that a full six modes are feasible.

Seeing all those blanks, you may be wondering what kinds of things a contraption could do? Well I had fun coming up with several examples. Also, note that the wording of the abilities allows multiple creatures to try to assemble the thing the “right” way. And Steamflogger Boss with his “assemble twice” clause will let you fetch a second contraption if you’ve only got one in play.